Italy and Turkey reaffirmed their support for Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord against warlord Khalida Haftar's militias during a meeting in Ankara.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Foreign Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio (L) hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on June 19, 2020.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (R) and Foreign Minister of Italy Luigi Di Maio (L) hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey on June 19, 2020. (Fatih Aktaş / AA)

Turkey and Italy will continue working for lasting peace and an efficient political process in Libya, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday.

Turkish and Italian foreign ministers met in the capital Ankara to discuss regional issues, including Libya and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as bilateral relations.

During a joint press conference, Cavusoglu stressed Italy's key role in Libya.

"We are aware of the critical role Italy has played. We thank them. They played a balanced role," Cavusoglu said.

He also underlined that Italy, unlike some EU countries, has not taken sides with the warlord Khalifa Haftar in Libya.

Sustainable ceasefire

"Italy has made sincere efforts for a ceasefire and political process," said Turkish top diplomat.

Cavusoglu added Turkey would like to see Italy on other platforms about Libya and this request has been conveyed to Russia and other countries.

Di Maio also said Italy wants a sustainable ceasefire in Libya.

"Libya should no longer be a security threat to Europe and Italy. For this, a political solution must be found," he said.

Operation Irini

Turkey says a EU naval operation — dubbed Irini — is focusing its efforts on the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and not enough on Haftar’s militia who launched an offensive in 2019 to capture the capital.

“Operation Irini is not balanced. It has never met any of the Government of National Accord’s requests and concerns,” Cavusoglu said.

He maintained that the operation ignores alleged “constant arms transfers to Hafter by France.”

Di Maio said Italy contributes to the operation with naval and air forces, with an aim to end the armed conflict in Libya.

He also said EU countries did not do exactly what they have to do, and Italian ships have newly been commissioned.

Responding to a question on the success of the operation, Di Maio said he cannot say the operation has been an exact solution but it can be an important step for complying with the embargo.

On March 31, EU foreign ministers approved the launch of Operation Irini. The mission aims to operate in the air, sea and with satellites to ensure that all countries respect the ban on providing arms to the parties involved in the Libyan conflict.

EU forces will also watch for illegal oil exports, prevent human trafficking and contribute to the training of the local coast guard and navy as a complementary task.

Read More: France's underhand tactics have made things in Libya worse

Turkish-US cooperation on Libya

The Turkish vice president on Friday said Turkey and the US have deepened cooperation on Libya and this can make a “positive difference.”

Fuat Oktay’s remarks came at a joint webinar of Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the US Chamber of Commerce.

"We are also deepening our bilateral consultations on Libya as agreed upon by the presidents [of Turkey and US] in their call on June 8," he said.

"Turkey and the US can together make a positive difference," Oktay added.

On Thursday, Turkey’s top diplomat said that Turkish foreign and defence ministries and intelligence will soon work with their US counterparts on Libya.

Turkey-Libya pacts

Last November, Turkey and Libya signed landmark pacts on military cooperation as well as boundaries in the Mediterranean.

Under the deal, Turkey sent advisers to help the Libyan army defeat warlord Haftar's militia.

The Libyan army recently inflicted heavy blows on Haftar and liberated the capital Tripoli and Tarhuna, in addition to other strategic locations, including Al Watiya airbase, from his militias.

The internationally recognised Libyan government has been under attack by Haftar's militias since April 2019, with more than 1,000 killed in the violence.

Read More: Arab League ‘shifts’ stance on Libya and recognises Libya's GNA

Source: TRTWorld and agencies